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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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acaScAn^ Native Chiefs, for which Burke is taken to task by
Indian of our Sir Alfred Lyall, the most academic Anglo-Indian
of ourtimes, in the 8th chapter of his Asiatic Studies.
All students of politics will eschew such parallels, and Statesmen
will also be extremely cautious in checking the historical evolu-
tion of national institutions by transplantations. The hereditary



1889. Lord Reay. 217

patel is from the student's point of view the most interesting
institution we have. No parallel could be drawn of that inter-
esting personage, and I should be very sorry to see him trans-
formed into a French Maire, either elected or nominated. I
regret extremely that I cannot enter into further details, but I
trust I have said enough to indicate that much inquiry and the
comparative study of institutions is required before we venture
on remarks which too often only betray the absolute ignorance
of speakers who have not grasped the difference between autonomy
and self-government, and who fancy that the delegation of
administrative duties implies the exercise of legislative powers.

Philistinism is the frame of mind which purposely ignores
the magnitude of a problem, and does not attempt
' T^fa^acult even * understand its outlines, but develops a
ofLaw* a crude judgement and ready-made theories. The

great object of a Faculty of Law is to teach those
who aspire to take part in public life jurisprudence, not as the
art of jurisdiction, but in its connection with moral and social
sciences, in its philosophical and historical aspect. In this rela-
tion, besides a Chair of Public Law, Chairs of Philosophy of Law,
of Political Economy, of Commercial and of International Law,
are necessary. They presuppose, of course, that the student has
in the Faculty of Arts been well trained in the method of historical
inquiry from a sociological point of view, and has had a sound
general education. As a school for barristers or solicitors, the
Faculty of Law will have to provide a Chair of Roman Law, of
Civil Law, of Criminal Law, of Civil and Criminal Procedure, of
Medical Jurisprudence, of Hindu and of Mahomedan Law, leav-
ing it to their discretion to attend the lectures in the other divi-
sion of the Faculty of Law, which would naturally be attended
by the sons of Chiefs and by those aspiring to serve the State in a
bureaucratic character, as well as by those who might con-
sider it their special vocation to take a share in public affairs.
In both divisions of the Law Faculty the chief object should
be to train the men in the method of Juridical argument, so
that future legal studies should be guided and facilitated by
this previous training. The omission in the University curricu-
lum in England of a Faculty of Politics is indefen-
Faculty of sible, and as institutions become more democratic
the necessity of political training becomes greater.
It is a remarkable fact that in the reign of Henry VIII. it was
intended to make use of the confiscated property of the monas-
teries to lay the foundation of a College for training public ser-
vants, who were to be taught general history, modern languages
28



218 University of Bombay.

and the history of diplomacy. The king unfortunately diverted
the funds to his favourites. My friends Mr. Bryce and Mr. Oscar
Browning have taken up the subject at their respective Univer-
sities, and Professor Lorimer has not ceased to insist on its con-
sideration in Scotch University Reform. I should have given
prominence to it in the London Teaching University movement
with which I was closely connected in its initial stages, and
which has made considerable progress, mainly due to the untiring
efforts on behalf of that cause of my friend Sir George Young.
The last development of political education in England which
has been brought to my notice is that of starting precocious young
orators on platforms, to while away the time until the guest of the
evening arrives. If we substitute " parler " for " penser " in the
following sentence, we may apply Sainte Beuve's harsh criticism
of de OFocqueville, as a mild criticism of such oratorical efforts :
' ' il a commence a parler avant d' avoir iren appris : ce qui fait
qu'il a quelquefois par!6 creux." I cannot conceive a worse
political school than the platform for immature politicians. Rather
let us exact from them an essay on the causes of instability of
government in France as a test, not a competitive examination.
On the other hand, I fully admit that the platform as a means of
downward filtration of the ideas of those who have mature expe- ,
rience is indispensable. I have been a cordial supporter of the
movement organised by my right hon'ble friend the Chancellor
of the Exchequer for extension of University lectures. There
is some risk that Universities, when they start such movements,
lose sight of their proper duties, but the risk is counterbalanced
by the good results of such lectures and their sobering influence.
In countries where a practical turn of mind prevails and suspicion
of academic thought is widespread, it behoves those who repre-
sent academic ideas to deal gently with Philistinism. Matthew
Arnold, whose untimely death all University men deeply regret,
has left us a precious legacy in his writings on this subject. In
India, as in Germany and in Italy, this danger is not very great.
India has always had in the Brahmin element of its society an
essentially academic element, which only needs development in
the right direction to raise the standard of higher education. In
the development of these Universities the educated classes of
India will find a much more congenial and useful sphere than in
other pursuits. It is through the Universities that they can obtain
their highest reward and become directly associated with their
fellow-workers of th^JTniversities in Europe. Indian and English
Universities can assist t^ach other in various ways, and their rela-
tions will be closer according to the measure in which they both
raise the academic standard and extend their influence. The



1889. Lord Eeay. 219



surest test of a nation's status among civilised nations is the
esteem in which Universities are held.

I need not say much about other faculties. In the Faculty
of Arts greater attention must be paid to the study
t . Other Facul- o f history and to the study of the Vernaculars. A
University which neglects the lessons which history
has to teach neglects one of its first duties. History provides
the data which are necessary to illustrate the development of
other studies. No study of politics is possible without knowledge
of history ; nor of political economy, finance, legislation, art.
I shall not enter into the controversy about the Vernaculars.
To say that higher education has no concern with the spoken
languages of the country, that they have nothing from which a
student can derive advantage is a proposition which seems to be
essentially unacademic, neither can it be regarded favourably
from the utilitarian point of view. Colonel Lees' proposal, ac-
cepted by Sir Alfred Lyall, of an Oriental Faculty as well as an
English Faculty of Arts, giving freedom to graduates in either,
is one which I believe to be practicable and desirable. Last year
we were able to cement our friendly relation with the French
Orientalist school by conferring a fellowship on Mr. James
Darmestetter, and this year we are again fortunate in having
recruited a distinguished Arabic scholar in M. Gasselin, the
French Consul. The Faculty of Arts has this advantage over
other faculties that the institutions affiliated to it are more nu-
merous. This will make it easy by a proper distribution of Work
and a concerted programme to secure better results and to pro-
vide for a greater number of Chairs, each College taking up some
special subject. The system of inter-collegiate lecturers is quite
applicable to our wants. By it we can obviate the evils which-
result from the absence of a central control of our higher teach-
ing Institutions. Where the State has absolute control of the
Universities a systematic arrangement follows. Whatever may
be the advantages derived from State control, in India we should
lose enormously by such centralisation. Great benefits have accru-
ed to higher education from the disinterested activity of private
bodies, and any interference with that activity would deprive
India of moral as well as of intellectual forces, which are of the
greatest value. In selecting as the Vice-Chancellor a distin-
guished Principal of one of the aided Colleges the successor of
Dr. Wilson Government have placed on record that they are
fully alive to the merits of Institutions which contribute in such
marked degree to our University life. Guizot's opinion : " de
tous les monopoles le pire ist celui de Venseignement " is



220 University cf Bombay.

certainly applicable to India. Of science I need only say that
the question must arise whether it should not have a faculty of
its own, combined with that of Civil Engineering. Science has
of late attained such a distinctive character, embraces so many
subjects, that it may well have a separate faculty all to itself
and not only separate degrees. In the College of Science at
Poona, this is virtually the case, and as science is sure to enlarge
its sphere it will become impossible to consider it any longer as a
division of the Arts Faculty. A special degree in agriculture
should, I think, be given. In India the higher study of agricul-
ture should be encouraged, and its distinctive character recog-
nised by a special degree, although both Agriculture and Civil
Engineering may very well be combined with Science in the same
faculty, as they are combined at the College of Science in Poona,
for the equipment of which Government accept the responsibility
a responsibility which is much lightened by the admirable
manner in which the Principal of the College, Dr. Cooke, dis-
charges his very heavy duties, and knows how to meet fresh
demands for extension, the latest of which relates to Botany.

Indian Universities have a very complex part to play. A
A complex vei 7 w ^^ e ^ e ^ ^ operations inclusive of every
function of In- intellectual aspiration of the various classes of
djan Universi- their countrymen has to be occupied. The de-
mands of Western as well as the time-honoured
demands of Eastern civilisation must be met. For the latter
your own resources suffice for the former you rely on our
assistance. It is our duty to give it ungrudgingly. Our illus-
trious predecessors have admitted the justice of your claim.
England must give to India a due proportion of its best men,
and I am not aware that for a British subject there is a more
honourable profession than that of holding an appointment in
the department of higher education in India. To fill it worthily
he must give to it. his full powers unreservedly. You have
known such men, and they live in your grateful recollection.
Unless Indian Universities receive the best representatives of
English learning they must fail, and failure in this instance
entails positive and not merely negative results. A University
which ceases to impart higher knowledge, to encourage sobriety
of thought, which has no hold over the hearts as well as over
the minds of its students, becomes a destructive agency. It
fosters the unwholesome growth of flippant tendencies. Instead
of turning out well-disciplined scholars, it sends forth young
men who are self-satisfied and unaware that they are barely
beginning to realise the magnitude of problems which have



18S9.Lord Beay. 221



been unveiled, and with which they deal with the arrogance
which always waits on ignorance. Because they mistake the
distance which separates them from those who have not tasted
the fruits of higher education, they forget that the distance by
which they are separated from the men who are really educated
is much greater, and that they are not even on the threshold of
the regions where the highest culture reigns supreme. No man
is highly educated who does not approach with awe and rever-
ence any subject with which he must deal authoritatively.
There is a French expression which better than any other stig-
matises this unwarrantable precocious self-confidence : " II ne
se doute de rien " which may be translated, ' he has not fathom-
ed the depths of his own ignorance/ Higher education leads
to the exactly opposite result. Indifferent teaching must inevita-
bly lead to self-conceit in those who receive it, and self-conceit
is the certain road to decay of individuals and of nations. All
history is there to prove it. Democracies are especially prone
to it. They are impatient of rebuke and of restraint. Higher
education is largely made up of rebukes and of restraints. It is
merciless on all preconceived theories, on all unsound doctrines,
on all that is unreal, and it rejects all that is unfinished and
superficial. It condemns to exile those who are not continually
grappling with their own ignorance. It laughs at those who,
not having begun the ascent, think they enjoy the view which is
only visible from the summit. If Indian Universities do not pro-
duce such results then they are only Universities in name. The
sooner we recognise the fact the better. The remedy is not far
to seek. You must be hypercritical in the selection of the men
to whom you confide this enormous trust. We must recruit for
our Indian Universities in England, in India, if necessary on the
Continent of Europe men who, fully alive themselves to the exi-
gencies of higher education, will refuse to be satisfied with any
thing less than the reality. In Indian Universities we can build
up a stronghold in which a high tone will prevail capable of resist-
ing the adverse and vulgarising influences which are ever at
work endeavouring to poison even the most intelligent strata of
society. But we can only hope to do so if the garrison of those
strongholds is composed of the elite of both nations. It is only
by the combined efforts of the wisest men in England, of the
wisest men in India, that we can hope to establish in this old
home of learning real Universities which will give a fresh impulse
to learning, to research, to criticism, which will inspire rever-
ence and impart strength and self-reliance to future generations of
our and of your countrymen. The sooner we recognise our
weakness on the academic side the better. Intellectual wealth



222 University of Bombay.

is to be found in nations which are not rich in other respects ; we
have only to mention Germany and Italy and Scotland to show
that a country need not be wealthy to indulge in academic luxu-
ries. We have lately witnessed a strong protest against the
system of competitive examinations as opposed to the develop-
ment of man's faculties. In many of the arguments which have
been urged against multiplication of examinations we have a
just criticism, especially of the evil influence of that system on
University teaching which is constantly opening up new courses
of study, and which in the same degree must restrict its examina-
tions to an absolute minimum. Universities are, in the first place,
called to train the few who will in their turn open up new
avenues of learning, and who for that purpose devote their
lives to literary, scientific, or critical studies. The history of all
great Universities is the history of men who have thrown a new
light on the subject which they had made their own particular
field of research, or of men who have brought to light errors
of past times, or of men who have exposed fallacies which
obtained during their lives, whether they were recognised as
fallacies by their own or by a subsequent generation.

The best organised University is the University which
leaves to its professors the maximum of time for
versity del Um " original research, for independent criticism, for
culture in all its ramifications. The duty of Uni-
versities is to keep intact the highest traditions of a people by
constantly raising the standard of its intellectual life by an
unflinching opposition to degrading and demoralising tendencies
which weaken the fibre of nations. You must enthrone on the
high seats of learning all that is noble, all that is brilliant, all
that is superior in the nations. You must give to rising genera-
tions the benefit of the afflatus of the genius of a preceding
generation and also if it exists of their own. It is the nature
of the environment which in most cases decides the future of
clever young men and of the future of nations. It is impossible
to overrate the influence exercised by men who know how to
appeal to the best instincts of the rising generation who kindle
in them enthusiasm for the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.
For such men, for such students, examinations are unnecessary,
because they are constantly examining themselves. Study has
no other meaning than perpetual self-examination. No real
student ever ceases to examine his results. Periodical University
examinations are from this point of view mainly a necessary evil,
because they presuppose that previous studies have not answered
their object, and inasmuch as they lead to subsequent cessation of



1889. Lord Eeay. 223



inquiry are destructive of study as a continuous process of exami-
nation. Universities are intended for higher studies, for new
departures in every branch of learning, for those who wish to live
the higher life in perfect independence of the errors which beguile
the outside world. The nation which cements that higher life,
which tries to ascend to the higher level, is the nation which
must occupy a foremost place. The nation which neglects such
aspirations, which disregards such influences, which thereby
degrades University life must inevitably fall back in the intel-
lectual race. The leaders of Universities should constantly be
on the watch against every attempt made to decoy them into
byways, astray from the ascent to higher latitudes.

The protest to which I have alluded is an opportune protest
against such an attempt. Examinations instituted
by those who teach in order to see whether their
teaching is assimilated and is rightly understood and is bearing
fruit, are necessary and useful, especially if they lead to the
immediate exclusion of those undergraduates who are unfit to
grasp the meaning of the lessons they receive, a process
which should be adhered to sternly. But examinations which
have no connection with the higher teaching and are principally
instituted to assist employers of labour in the selection of their
servants, whether the employer is the State or a Company, have
no relation whatever to the main object for which Universities are
instituted. The object of the men who enter for such examinations
is very creditable, but it is not the pursuit of knowledge chiefly.
Many of those men will adorn literature, science, criticism, but
this will be an incident of their career, not its main purpose.
If it were otherwise, there is a real danger that they would not
devote themselves as they ought to the service of their employers,
and I hardly know a more exacting employer than the Government
in India. Universities cannot but welcome the advent of those
who are preparing for such tests, but Universities must make it
quite plain that they are not and cannot consider it part of their
duty to ensure success at examinations which aim at sifting men
fit for practical duties from men who are unfit for them. It is
an altogether different question whether the State and other
employers of labour should avail themselves of the results of
University training by accepting University standards, by employ-
ing those whose University career points to future usefulness
in the practical domain. I have seen excellent results from this
system. I only know of one objection to it, that professors
perhaps more than other men indulge in the very pardonable
luxury of having favourites, but then the difficulty is not



224 University of Bombay.

insuperable because the favourite of one Professor is generally
not the favourite of his colleagues, and the result is that on
application to the joint body of Professors you get a very fair
supply. I am compelled to admit that the result of the competitive
system as tested by my experience of the distinguished body of
gentlemen who form the administration of this Presidency is far
from unsatisfactory, but the admission does not invalidate the
distinction which I have drawn. The time spent in outside
examinations by men whose duty it is to teach as well as to
advance knowledge, is time wasted. The profession of a Civil
Service examiner and the profession of a University teacher must
remain distinct professions. University examinations have a
direct relation to the subject-matter which is taught, and Uni-
versity teaching has a higher aim than mere acquisition of
useful knowledge, such as is required for practical purposes.

I have drawn a high ideal of a University. I am aware
that it has not been reached. This University has
Teaciiers n f on ^ v ^ a ^ m ^ e( i extent its own destinies in its
hands. It practically settles the programmes in
the various faculties. But when that function has been per-
formed there remains another more responsible, more difficult :
to select the men, who are to be the teachers, on whose ability,
on whose character must depend how those programmes are to
be carried out. That function is now performed by Govern-
ment and by private bodies. There is no function which
I consider of greater importance. No appointment has been
to me a cause of deeper anxiety than the appointment to
fill the vacant place of Dr. Vandyke Carter. The appoint-
ment has been made on purely academic lines, and I shall
watch with the greatest solicitude Dr. Meyer's scientific career.
The Law Faculty may be congratulated on having received
Mr T Ian & S rQa> ^ accession of strength in the person of
Mr. Telang, a born professor himself, a constant
student, and therefore what every professor should be the
guide and the friend of his students. This University should
impress on those who in Europe select the men to be sent
out, the enormous responsibility which rests on them. Unless
the men who undertake a mission which I do not hesitate
to call sacred are imbued with the magnitude of the work
they are undertaking, higher education, instead of being the
greatest blessing England has conferred on India, will be its
greatest curse. Higher education is not a manufacture in
which mechanical skill is sufficient, it is architecture, and as it
given only to very few men to be good architects, so it requires



1889. Lord Reay. 225



the highest constructive talent to bnild up this great struc-
ture in India. Every ignoble feature must be excluded, and only
such architects as command a pure and noble style can be entrust-
ed with the design. We have only laid the bare foundations, and in
many respects they are weak. I am not quite sure that the archi-
tects themselves have a very clear idea of even the mere outlines of
the building. Some of the architects however are aware that the
materials with which they have to work are extremely brittle.
But in Mr. Wordsworth we have had a brilliant instance of real
academic influence. He did not find it an impossible task to guide
the aspirations of the educated youth of India to a higher plane.

I may perhaps be permitted to address a few words of en-
couragement to the undergraduates and the young
Graduates 0118 f graduates. If their University career is to answer
its object, they must also be deeply penetrated with
the obligations it entails. It is to them the starting point of a new
life. It is not complete in itself, it is a mere beginning. The
seed sown at a University can only fructify in a receptive soil a
soil which has been carefully prepared. Whether it will produce
a rich harvest or tares depends on a combination of circumstances.
Here I need only point out that assimilation is the principal desi-
deratum. In the quickness of perception of Indians we have a
formidable antagonism to depth and breadth of conception, and
to originality. The educated youth of India, as well as of all other
countries, must dive deep into the inner recesses of the science
with which they are dealing if they wish to master it authorita-
tively. That is what I ventured to call assimilation, and it is only
thus that they can hope to contribute to the building their mite of
co-operation. There is no short cut in this domain; there is only
one royal road. The new discoveries can only be made by those



Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 25 of 66)